USA Practice Quotes >> Sept. 9, 2010
Sept. 9, 2010 • Hartford, Conn.
After four days of training in the nation's capital, finalists for the 2010 USA Women's World Championship Team arrived in Hartford for their final domestic push towards the Czech Republic and the 2010 FIBA World Championship. With 11 players on the court - the U.S. was bolstered by the addition of Tamika Catchings - the team spent time going over plays, shooting and generally continuing to prepare for its first test. Tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. at the XL Center the U.S. finalists will take on the Australia National Team, which is also without several key players.
What did USA head coach and some of the U.S. players have to say about the first practice in Hartford? Find out below.
Geno Auriemma, University of Connecticut
On picking up pieces as the playoffs end:
We are at 11 right now, and it looks like Diana and Candice Dupree will be here tomorrow. What time, we don’t know. I mean, I think we got a pretty good idea what time their plane lands but whether they’ll be here in time for the game to play, I don’t know. We just got Tamika here today. This was her first practice. So, it’s a constant juggling act. But it’s OK, too, not a problem.
Would you rather play Australia with Lauren Jackson, who will miss tomorrow’s game?
Well, you know, the first time we played they didn’t have Lauren, we didn’t have Sylvia. So, both teams were missing a crucial aspect of their team, and it’s going to be the same tomorrow – no Sylvia for us no Lauren Jackson for them. So, you know, you do get a chance to see other players. You get a chance see how other combinations work and who can play in that environment against a really good team. So, all of those things are good. The real test will be in a couple weeks if we play them again and they have Lauren, and we still don’t know if we’re having Sylvia. Then it’s going to be a little bit more of an issue than it is tomorrow night.
Is the post still your biggest concern?
Yep. These guys play together pretty well. It’s not hard to get them to play together. They’re unselfish. They’re good kids, they play really hard, they’re competitive as heck. We’re just not big enough. I mean, when you see Australia tomorrow, you’ll see what I’m talking about. They’re big at every position it seems like. We’re just not big enough right now. So, you know, we just got to figure out other ways to be successful. Now, if we had Sylvia and Candace Parker, we’d say they can’t be bigger than us. They may be big, but they’re not going to be bigger than us. But, we’re going to have to play it a little bit different. We’re going to have to be kind of mix and match and try to create some matchup problems for them. We’re going to have some matchup problems trying to guard them, and we have to hope that we can create the same thing at the other end.
Is Jayne Appel physically back to where she used to be?
I asked her, she seems to be. She says she’s feeling good. She says she feels good. She says she feels healthy. What that means I don’t know. At this time of the year, everyone is hurt, everyone is banged up, everyone is overcoming some injuries, rehabbing some injuries, dealing with some nagging stuff, on both teams. Every team that goes to the world championship has issues, and you just got to hope that they can play through it. But we seem to be pretty healthy.
Lindsay Whalen following the USA's first practice at the XL Center
Without Sue and Cappie here, other guards are going to get a lot of playing time, what’s the point situation look like?
Well, without Sue and Cappie, it really does take on a whole different look. We’ve had Lindsay (Whalen), Renee and Kara since the beginning, and the interesting part about it is that they’ve all been good and none of them so good that you say clearly this one is better than the other two. So, they’ve all had their moments. Just when we think, ‘Man, she’s taken a huge step,’ the next day they’re average and the next guy plays great. These two games will be a real good opportunity. Well, I should say Lindsey Harding, too. So, we’ve got the two Lindsays, Kara and Renee, and Kara probably being not as much of a point guard as the other three. But it’s been interesting and it’ll be a real challenge for them to compete against some really, really experience guards because they’re pretty young … I asked them today. I said, ‘Who played in the world championship when you guys lost to Russia and Brazil.’ It was Tamika Catchings and Seimone Augustus. So, two out of the 11 guys that are here have any experience doing what we are about to do.
Can you talk about what Catchings brings to the team?
The movement that she creates. She never stops moving. She’s constantly creating action, whether it’s defensively she’s getting in a passing lane or she’s getting block or a rebound, or offensively, the way she’s running the floor and cutting and slashing, or offensive rebounding. She just generates a ton of movement, and it makes everybody else’s job easier, especially the passers on our team. You know, because she can always be found. And she just has a presence about her that I really, really, really like, and the respect of the other players. That goes a long way.
Tamika would have fit well on a UConn team, wouldn’t she?
Oh, yeah. I told her that. I said, you know, of all the players that I’ve ever coached against, she was probably the one that I would have loved to coach the most, regardless of what other school they went to. I think in the four years that we competed against them, I always thought that. I always thought that. If there’s one player I could take from any other school in the country, it would be Tamika Catchings.
Maya said Tamika was a player she idolized, it seems like there are a lot of similarities there?
There’s a lot of similarities there, the way they play the game, you know, and how physical they are and their approach and the kind of impact that they have on their teams. I would think that was a wise choice by Maya. I would hope that Maya could have the same level of success at the world championship and Olympic level that Tamika has had.
Tina Charles (Connecticut Sun)
What are you here working on?
Just gelling with this team. We don’t have a lot of time together, that’s what coach always says. Other countries, they are with each other all year long. We just come together for a couple days, and we have to get everything quick. We are working hard, and our effort is there. It’s going to help us.
Does it help to have your former UConn coach and several UConn players here?
Yeah, definitely because you know his system. You know what he wants from you. So, I think that’s what we get away with, we know what to expect from him.
Is that an instant comfort level?
Yeah, definitely. That’s what helped me when I joined the Connecticut Sun, having Asjha and Renee there. So, there is definitely a comfort zone.
Did you feel your game take a tremendous leap this past year?
Yeah. I just wanted to keep it rolling off of what I did my senior year, the same way how I went from my junior to my senior year. I didn’t want to go backward, always want to go forward.
Where do you think you improved?
Just mentally, how I came into the game, what I’m thinking when I go into the game, just trying to have that consistent factor.
Did you feel good coming into this training camp?
I feel good. I feel like I fit in.
Is there any pressure before on tomorrow’s game against Australia:
No, because we can do it. Coach Auriemma always says if there’s pressure on you that means you can’t do it, and I believe that we can do it. So, there’s no pressure.
Do you enjoy the international game?
Yeah, it’s something different. When you get those letters across your chest it makes you feel like your hard work is paying off.
Maya Moore (University of Connecticut) Maya Moore following the USA's first practice at the XL Center
Well, I took some time off in the summer, a month after the all-star break, and then just got some rest, stayed off my feet and visited some family, so that was good. And then I started training, some low-impact stuff for the last two weeks of the summer at UConn. And then we started school, started working out, preseason workouts, and then I came here. So, as far as missing a lot of school, hopefully I’ll go all the way to Oct. 4. I talked to my teachers and connected with some classmates, and I’m just going to have to be an online student for a while.
Maya Moore following the USA's first practice at the XL Center